Monday, February 25, 2013

Pearl Ring

I have finished my first ring project.

This ring features a natural, un-dyed, pink pearl set in sterling silver.
As for the inspiration for this piece, I absolutely fell in love with the pearl rings at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Here is my favorite from their online collection:

I found a setting that is similar and so of course I went on a search for that beautiful pink pearl. To my dismay, it is a conch pearl and still very rare. There are places to get them but the price is prohibitive for most (me included).

Here is some of my research for this:

According to Minerals and their Uses (1849) both fresh water and salt water pearls were well known and fishing for them was written about in many books. The author did not know how pearls were made but he does list some theories. The book also mentions colors, sizes and prices of pearls. For example a necklace with pearls the size of peppercorns would cost 1s 6d per pearl. (I have no idea what that means)

In A Popular Treatise On Gems (1859) they still state that they don't really know how pearls are made but they do go into how they are artificially made by the Chinese. They string small pearls and place them in the "fish" when they are open and then go back and get them in "some years". It goes on to say that "The price (of pearls) has, within the last forty years, much diminished, for two reasons: 1st. Diamonds, and particularly brilliants, have become more plentiful, and have since been worn, not by the higher classes alone, but also by the middling. 2nd. Within the last twenty years, artificial pearls (the ones farmed by the Chinese) have been manufactured in high perfection, and are worn to a great extent." It also says that "a great many thousand pearls" were produced in New Jersey. It goes on to tell the story of a man who went out to get some oysters from Notch Brook for his breakfast and when he opened them, pearls fell out. He took the pearls to a jeweler and found out they were valuable. The man and jeweler then started collecting and harvesting them to sell.
More inspiration for future rings from the V and A museum:

 Update - I have been commisioned to make more of these rings. If you would like one, visit my Etsy shop. Thanks.